Microsoft is urging Windows Home Server (WHS) users not to get too optimistic that a bug-free fix for the operating system's chronic corruption problems will be finished by June, due to the time needed for testing. It is understandable why it has to issue such a statement; WHS users obviously are likely to be a bit impatient after the long saga of problems that have plagued the OS.
Initially released last November with high hopes and billed by Microsoft to be the future of home user storage, it was soon discovered that the OS corrupted some types of files. As the month passed, the number of file types found to be corruption susceptible and the situations under which corruption arose merely grew. Microsoft promised a fix soon after Christmas. By March there was still no fix and word came from Microsoft that the WHS's underlying file system was broken and that a full fix would not be available to June.
Microsoft did discover that the problem seemed to revolve around the use of multiple hard drives. Users with two or more hard drives were the main victims of corruption. There have been scattered unsubstantiated reports of single hard drive corruption. In its blog Microsoft wrote, "It is at an extremely low level of the operating system and it requires thorough testing to ensure that the fix addresses the issue."
This week Microsoft finally rolled out the beta build of that fix, named WHS Power Pack 1. Microsoft's WHS team is being cautious with beta release and checking for problems. They write in their blog, "We intend to allow adequate time for feedback and thorough testing during the beta process."
As Microsoft points out, if this means missing the promised June release date, so be it. They state in their blog, "That date could change as testing progresses."
Until the fix is released Microsoft is basically recommending WHS users to limit their use of files on their systems. This includes changing the server's share folders settings to read only and avoiding the use of media management programs such as Windows Media Player or iTunes with files on the server. According to Microsoft, users should "also avoid redirecting applications to access files that are stored in the Shared Folders because some applications may change the metadata of a file without explicit user action."
The problems with WHS have been perhaps the greatest on any recent Windows OS. With the new patch the WHS team hopes to turn over a new leaf. But they acknowledge that they may have to wait to do so.